Wednesday 20 February 2013

Genealogy notes 10-14 Feb 2013 Days 1-5 of the Genealogy Cruise

Well I'm now safely home from the 2013 Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and I've been pondering the best way of writing up all my notes. Early on I decided to leave the laptop at home and I put the IPad and phone in the room safe so I was strictly a pen and notebook person on this cruise. Why? I do like a break from technology every so often and also this cruise was so packed with sessions, I wouldn't have had time to attend everything and then do daily blogs and experience life on board.

I will blog the genealogy part of the cruise in this Diary over two blogs and then do an overall review of the cruise in my SHHE Genie Rambles blog in a few days time. Just before we left for the airport on Day 1, I left a quick paragraph explaining my absence over the next ten days.

It was a good trip to Brisbane airport and no delays so we soon found ourselves in Sydney airport. We had planned to take the train to Circular Quay but due to maintenance over the weekend, the train was not running but there were free buses, first to Central Station and then on to Circular Quay. It took a bit longer but we were still three hours before boarding time. I hate last minute panics!

There didn't seem to be any queue at The Voyager of the Seas so we wandered over and handed in our bags and proceeded to go through customs and before we knew we were on board the ship. In fact lunch was just starting so we went up to Deck 11 (15 decks overall) and enjoyed lunch while overlooking the Sydney Opera House. After lunch it was a stroll around Deck 12 (the jogging track) where we could almost see all of Sydney from that height. I wonder what the people who live in units close to the Quay think when their view is suddenly blocked by this huge ship.

After a delicious dinner we watched the ship leave Sydney Harbour and then went down to the Meet and Greet where Alan introduced the various speakers. Having been up since before dawn, I will confess to nodding off during this session and as soon as it was over, I dashed off to my room for a good night's sleep. Sadly I missed the geneablogger photo opportunity although there was another one taken on the last day as well.

Day 2 was full on with three concurrent streams for most of the day. The first two speakers were Stephen Dando-Collins and Paul Milner who I missed as I slept in and then got delayed at breakfast. However I did make it to my first of nine talks at 11am but this meant I missed Carol Baxter talking about NSW research and Neil Bradley on Western Australian research. Mine was on Victorian research so very much a State based theme!

After an hour for lunch the three streams continued (including the Research Help Zone). I went to Jan Gow's session on Getting to Know Legacy but missed Helen Smith talking about Queensland research and Rosemary Kopittke talking about Australian Government, Police and Education Gazettes. My next choice was Louis Kessler talking about Choosing and Using Genealogy Software as I'm thinking of swapping over from Legacy. This meant that I missed Linda Elliot's talk on What to Do With The Body: A Victorian Solution - a very intriguing title so I hope someone else blogs about that session.

My next session was another Jan Gow session on Creating Your Own Reference Library. I've heard Jan talk about Treepad many times and she always makes it look so simple but then I suspect she has every aspect of her life and research well documented! The thought of cataloguing all my library books is daunting but I know that it would make life much simpler for me. Jill Ball advised that she uses Library Thing so I need to check that out and I know others use Collectorz.  A definite rainy day job.

One overseas speaker I didn't go to was Bob Velke who did a variety of sessions on The Master Genealogist and as I'm not interested in that program I missed hearing all of his talks. Rosemary Kopittke demonstrated the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner and Family Photo Book both of which I was familiar with.

The last afternoon session was me again with my Family History on the Cheap talk but this meant I missed Jill Ball's GeneaGoogling: Effective Google Searches which was disappointing as I think the more we can learn about using Google effectively, the better. Like other speakers, Jill's slides/handouts will be available on the Resources page of the Unlock the Past website in a few days time. Mine are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

The after dinner session was Paul Milner on Finding Your Ancestors in Scotland: The Big Five which I missed as we were going to the ship's evening show in the La Scala Theatre.

Day 3 was another packed day of talks, you didn't have to go to every session but from what I saw most people seemed to attend quite a few sessions each day. I was first up with my talk on Trove and Paul Milner followed with a talk on the English Parish Chest. Then the sessions divided into three and I selected Linda Elliott's talk on Researching NZ Ancestors from a Distance but missed Carol Baxter talking on Writing Family History. I've heard Carol speak on that before and I wanted to attend Linda's talk as her online name is Mad About Genealogy and that's also where you will find her talk handouts. I believe she is going to PDF her talks like me and put them on her website.

The after lunch sessions were almost like a marathon from 1-5pm with four talks unless you skipped one or two. I missed Jill Ball's Google Tools for Genealogy as I was having a one on one session with a cruise attendee and Louise Kessler was talking about Behold and Bob Velke ran two sessions on The Master Genealogist. In the second session I chose Helen Smith's talk on one name studies (the GOONS) and missed Rosemary Kopittke talking about Find My Past Australasia and Jill Ball talking about Social Media for Genealogists. My third session was with Jan Gow talking about using Ancestry in Your Pyjamas (I'll confess that I do too) and missed Rosemary Mackenzie talking about the next NSW/ACT genealogy conference in Canberra in September and the next AFFHO Congress also in Canberra in 2015. Alan Phillips also spoke about what's coming up for Unlock the Past with cruises, webinars and ebooks all sounding very exciting. The last session was Paul Milner on English Parish Registers.

The evening was free to allow attendees to go to the Ship's famed ice shows but as it turned out, these ended up being held in the day time so roster changes were made so that people didn't miss out. We went to the La Scala Theatre again and I think most people appreciated the night off.

Day 4 was in Noumea and there are no sessions while we are in port. We were supposed to leave by 4pm so I did my Ancestors in Church talk up against Jill Ball on A Genealogist's Toybox which was another talk I wanted to go to as Jill always amazes me with all her gadgets and how she uses them for genealogy. It was during this session that we found out that the ship had some technical troubles and would be staying over in Noumea for another day while repairs were made. I suppose it is always better to break down in port rather than miles out to sea but it was disappointing. It meant that we could no longer make it to Fiji and I was so looking forward to going there again. My last visit was in 1976 so it's been a while!

Paul Milner did another evening session with Scottish Kirk Session and Poor Relief Records. All of Paul's handouts are on his website under the aptly named button Handouts!

Day 5 we were still in Noumea so this meant a major roster change so we swapped the program for Day 6 when we were supposed to be in Fiji. The 4pm talks were Jill Ball talking about the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner and Picasa (which I have heard before and I love Picasa's facial recognition software) and Paul Milner talking on Welsh Ancestors. After dinner Paul did Irish Land Records.

Not going to Fiji meant that we ended up with four solid days of talks on Days 6-9 so I'll do those days in a separate blog tomorrow as this is getting quite lengthy. The good thing about most of the speakers is that they will be putting their handouts or slides online and those not fortunate enough to be on the cruise might still be able to follow the talks and take note of the various websites mentioned by everybody. I have the usual list of sites I want to visit! Part Two will be tomorrow so stay tuned.


  1. I didn't realise how exhausted I was until I got home from the cruise and crashed. When I look at your precision of events I know why I was so tired.

    But wasn't it great fun!

  2. Thanks so much Shauna for the info and "links" which are so valuable for someone, like me, who was unable to attend. I laughed SO much about "using Ancestry in your pyjamas" cos that's me too and hope to be able to get to Paul Milner's sessions when he comes to SOz. Fingers crossed :-) ... Cheers, Catherine.

  3. Thanks Shauna for your reports from the Cruise. Its a great way for those who can't attend to keep up with genealogy events. Thanks again.